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Photography Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Extra WeeGee”

No photographer came close to capturing the sensations, scandals, and catastrophes of 1930s and ’40s New York like Weegee (Arthur Fellig – 1899–1968). His striking images—captured through his uncanny ability to be on the spot and ready to shoot when things happened—have become part of the visual vocabulary through which we understand the period. This book, however, offers something new: drawing on an NEA archive that was only discovered in 2012, it presents countless never-before-seen Weegee photos. We see new angles on many of his familiar subjects—from the hardened police officer to the loud-mouthed crook; the midnight boozer to the dancing jazz musician; a dramatic conflagration to the celebrations at the end of World War II—but we also get a glimpse of an unknown side of Weegee through surprising photographs of happy people enjoying themselves. The works are complemented by a fascinating account of the rediscovery of the archive, which had been missing for decades.

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American Circus Art History Sideshow

Sideshow Banner Paintings

SNAP WYATT – Banner Painter

Snap Wyatt was a prolific painter of huge circus banners primarily in the 1940’s and 50’s.  He was known for his bold, cartoon-like style. His banners were painted with quick caricatures, and only the essential details of the performer were outlined in black to make them stand out. He said he could finish one in a day for about $85. bucks. The bright and colorful banners drew in the crowd with the mystery of what was inside the tent. Wyatt is considered to be among the top in his field. His banners today sell for thousands.

Sideshow banner painter Snap Wyatt and a handful of others including Fred Johnson, Tattoo Jack Cripe and Jack Sigler (now all deceased), brought art to the carnival midways of the 30’s through 60’s with their 10′ x10′ banners that waved outside the circus and carnival sideshows drawing the crowd to come inside.

Originally intended as silent talkers, the huge canvases played to a carnival attendees curiosity and directed them to walk right into the sideshow tent.

The banners portrayed the acts inside the tent and were an interesting combination of the bizarre and human oddities – from Major Debert Tiniest Man to the 643 pound Sweet Marie, Huey The Pretzel Boy to the Alligator Girl, Hydrocephalus Baby to The Penguin Boy.

Few considered the canvasses of sideshow banner painter Snap Wyatt and the other banner painters an art form at the time they were painted, yet today the mega-paintings are being bought almost as fast as they’re hung on an art gallery’s wall.

Snap Wyatt’s banners sell today for thousands. Snap Wyatt (1905-1984)

Some of the original posters are now part of the Kohler Foundation.

For more information and other posters by Snap Wyatt go here.

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Book Shelf Photography Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “One, Two, Three, More” by Helen Levitt

Vaudevisuals recommeneds this beautiful photography book by Helen Levitt.

Born in Brooklyn in 1913, Helen Levitt’s photographs made on the streets of New York have inspired and amazed generations of photographers, collectors and curators. Helen Levitt’s first major museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943, and a second solo show was held there in 1974. Retrospectives of her work have been held at several museums including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, International Center for Photography and the Centre National la Photographie in Paris.

Helen Levitt’s earliest pictures are a unique and irreplaceable look at street life in New York City from the mid-1930s to the end of the 1940s. There are children at play, lovers flirting, husbands and wives, young mothers with their babies, women gossiping, and lonely old men. A majority of these photographs have never been published. Other pictures included in this book are now world-famous, now part of the standard history of photography. Together they provide a record of New York not seen since Levitt’s pioneering solo show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1943.

Introduction by Geoff Dyer:

Geoff Dyer’s many books include But Beautiful, Out of Sheer Rage, The Missing of the Somme, The Ongoing Moment, the novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, and the essay collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism). His latest book is White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World. A recipient of a 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for non-fiction, he is an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he is Writer in Residence at USC.

Helen Levitt Self Portrait

Link to Book Review

Link to New York Time Obit

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